My research interests in modern European history have centered on fascism and colonialism, and most of my publications to date lie at the intersection of the two historiographies of Italian Fascism and of interwar imperialism. Within these broad areas, I have explored, among other topics, borderlands, hybridity, and sovereignty, as well as migration and everyday life, and have deployed a variety of methodologies including oral history.
At the core of my monograph, Mussolini's Nation-Empire: Sovereignty and Settlement in Italy's Borderlands, 1922-1943 (Cambridge University Press, 2017), is an interest in sovereignty and state power. The book explores how, in the light of new interwar norms of sovereignty and national selfdetermination, the Fascist regime sought to assert and consolidate its rule over contested regions at the antipodes of the Italian nation — in newly annexed provinces in the North and in colonial territories across the Mediterranean in Libya. At the same time, the book asks how ordinary people made sense of, challenged, and rethought their place in society in the context of shifting territorial state boundaries and fluid collective identities.
My new research project, tentatively titled The Battle for the High Ground: Nationalism, Technology, and Nature on the Alpine Front in World War I, again revolves around borderlands and questions of belonging. It explores the Alpine front between Italy and Austria-Hungary in the First World War. Here too I am interested in the intersection between imperial and national histories, both in the way that people, whether soldiers or civilians, made sense of decisions made on high that profoundly affected their lives, and in the way that national and regional memories were created in the war’s aftermath. A common thread in Mussolini’s Nation-Empire and in the new project is thus the continuum of voices from “coal face” to cabinet room. What makes history come alive for me is the chance to explore individuals up and down the social ladder, and to explore the flows of ideas and power between village, nation-state, and empire.